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Can wills keep undesirable family members out of inheritance?

As many Kent, Seattle residents know, planning for the distribution of one's estate in the event of death is truly important for oneself and for the loved ones who stand to inherit. An estate plan makes it easier on beneficiaries later if how one intends to distributed her assets is clear. By setting up a will or some form of estate plan, Kent residents can also ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes. This includes prohibiting certain individuals from inheriting one's assets if this is so desired. One expert recently addressed how one might ensure a child's spouse does not stand to inherit assets.

Studies have shown that nearly half of Americans do not have any estate plan or will in place. Without a proper estate plan, many families have to face costly probate court in order to appoint someone to make a difficult medical decision or to determine how one's assets should be divided. To overcome all of this trouble, taking the time to set up a basic will or estate plan is a good start.

With a plan in place, one can customize how they want their property and assets to be divided. They can choose to keep an individual, say an untrustworthy spouse of a child, out of their will. First, because a child's spouse is not a blood relative, the spouse does not stand to inherit in traditional inheritance concepts under default law. Yet, a child's spouse could inherit assets in a roundabout way merely because the child might share inherited assets with his or her spouse. One potential way to get around such an issue could be to set up an irrevocable trust, granting a trustee permission to release certain funds to the child alone.

By setting up a basic will or estate plan, many Kent residents can choose who they want their inheritance to go to while keeping undesirables from getting a portion. Any individual ready to set up an estate plan can seek the guidance of an attorney for advice. Often times it is not hard to set up a simple and effective estate plan.

Source:, "ESTATE PLANNING: Planning around a child's spouse," Christopher W, April 13, 2013

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